AP News

Algeria president denies splits in military


ALGERIA, Algeria (AP) — Algeria's president, in a speech read by a minister Tuesday, said there were no divisions between the military and the intelligence services despite fierce exchanges in the media over the past few weeks.

Algeria's political scene was electrified earlier in February when the head of the ruling party slammed the meddling of the intelligence services in politics. Soon other articles appeared with prominent figures linked to the intelligence services attacking allies of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, including the army chief of staff.

The exchanges come just two months before presidential elections in which there are no clear front-runners.

Bouteflika, who rarely appears in public since a stroke a year ago, has yet to say whether he will run for a fourth term in April elections. Elections in Algeria usually involve a candidate with the clear backing of the military and political establishment who garners a lion's share of the votes.

In the speech commemorating the martyrs of the independence struggle against France, Bouteflika, 76, said this "fictitious conflict between the institutions of the National Popular Army" were part of a plot to destabilize the country.

"This process was unfortunately helped by the irresponsible behavior of some and lack of maturity of others under the influence of the media war against Algeria," he said.

Bouteflika did confirm a widely rumored restructuring of the intelligence services in September, maintaining it was a normal process and not evidence of a crisis.

While holding regular elections, Algeria is widely seen as being controlled by a small group of powerful generals. The recent media war was taken as evidence of internal splits.


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